It is a month till release, and the CEO comes out of the office and says we need a new feature for the release. A week later he modifies the new feature. The developer works hard to please him and delivers, but he doesn't like it. The requirement changes again and now we are a few days from release. how are we going to debug, test, and verify for release if things keep changing?
I believe we have all been in this situation, sure it may not be the CEO, it might be a top tier customer or anyone else who happens to occupy the bully pulpit at the time. The question is: what should you do? how do you say no? how does QA/development manage the requirements?
Requirements are not cast in stone. Requesters and stakeholders are developing ideas, insights, and more knowledge of what they really want over time. it is an evolution to the end goal, and it can change. sometimes the change is for the better, other times it seems like a rabbit hole. It may seem that requirements can change at any time in the process, but with a little forethought and process, requirements can be managed such that late changes are not nearly as devastating to a release or QA cycle.
Managing requirements can be compared to herding cats. About the time that you get one in line, another goes awry. The only way to address the management of requirements is to follow a systematized approach. The team needs to track time, activities, effects, and the priority of each and every task associated with each requirement. Not only must everything be tracked, but a strong link of communication must be in place to deliver the results of this tracking to the stakeholders. In this way the stakeholders are “in the loop” as to the effect on budget, schedule, release, and daily routine their changes make. This is what helps you keep the cats in line.
The SDLC requires requirements, after all you need to know what is being developed and tested. From the QA arena, we truly need to know the intent, not just a one line statement. We need to know how and why a requirement exists so that we can design meaningful test cases to prove or disprove a requirements state.
A few tips for managing requirements, not a complete best practices, but a good start:
We are not discouraging changes, but it is important to understand the scheduling and cost challenges that come with them. Changes should be thoughtful and well planned.
Of course, all of these elements can be completed in a text editor, by hand, or spreadsheet. We recommend making your life easier and trying out SpiraTeam to see how easy it is to facilitate communications in requirements management.
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